Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Godzilla "Anniversary" Movie Stomps All Over Burr's

For as long as I can remember, I have been a big fan of the Godzilla flicks. Except for the ones with King Kong and the little boy in disturbingly short dock shorts.

The cheese, the bad voice-overs and onion-paper thin plot lines never mattered. Watching the 400-foot monster stomp throughout a make-believe land of Tonka cars and miniature skyscrapers was cool...watching him destroy all comers was even better.

I even stomached the Raymond Burr black and white version that was released for stateside audiences in 1956. For those who don't know, Burr's "American Reporter" scenes were dropped in for those still too raw from WWII to give a tinker's damn about the Japanese. Taken out were key story lines that the Japanese could relate to, a scant decade after the bombing of Hiroshima.

My son and I watched the special release of the 50th anniversary addition at a full-fledged big screen in suburban Pittsburgh with about 30 others.

I may never watch the version with a pre-Perry Mason ever again.

The Japanese edition is a completely different movie.

Gone are "Steve Martin's" droll commentary and Burr's plywood swagger. Instead we have a love triangle, a scientist who dreads the big lizard's potential demise, "every man" responses from those caught in the chaos, and enough gleeful ignorance to make things interesting.

Godzilla sinks at least 17 fishing boats, yet a yacht-full of swing dancers blissfully pushes off the next night, stopping their stomping only to watch the Big Guy rise from the sea. In another scene, a boat full of what appears to be 700 everyday people pulls away from confetti and paper stringer lines celebrations as a team of investigators. Khaki-clad women just this side of legal with no stated scientific expertise ride along, apparently because their boyfriends are important in some vague capacity.

By I digress.

You feel for these people. You wonder why a woman huddles in front of Godzilla's path, cuddling at least three young children. She comforts them by saying that "we'll be with Daddy soon." For that moment, you wonder about her state of mind, and why she'd just lay there for long moments, waiting for The End.

The heroine breaks down twice because she "broke a promise" by telling someone about a world-saving solution to the Godzilla problem.

And did I mention, no Raymond Burr in site?

I could go on forever, but I won't. The early 1950's was a fragile time in Japan, and "Godzilla" seemed to fit right into the culture. The immediate sequel, sometimes called "Godzilla's Revenge," is abysmal. More than a dozen years later, Godzilla made his third appearance on the big screen, battling Kong.

A series of others in the 60's and 70's turned the Green Giant into a hero, battling Moths, Birds and other quickly thrown together foes. In 1985 Burr returned to act next to a Dr. Pepper machine, in what was billed as a direct sequel to the first.

Then inexplicably, the powers that be at Toho believed that we'd "buy" a never-ending series of revisionist rewrites. Almost every movie in the past 20 years has been envisioned as a sequel to the 1954 original. One went so far as to completely reinvent the Godzilla mythos. There's reportedly only one more coming...reportedly a remake of "Destroy All Monsters." Perhaps the current-day Toho suits are waiting for fresher ideas and special effects. They've said they'll make more after a five-year hiatus. There have been more than 25 flicks featuring Godzilla, not including the one with Ferris Buehler and an Iguana.

I might just have a new favorite. Subtitles and all, the original Japanese, un-cut Godzilla is the best of them all.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Pirates Have Second At Bat With All-Star Game

Pittsburgh will host the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. That's quite an accomplishment, since the last showcase game in town was just 10 years ago. Betcha a lot of cities are fuming, as the city along Three Rivers will be the first to host three games in three different venues...PNC, Three Rivers Stadium and before that, Forbes Field.

More important, Kevin McClatchy and his administrative crew MUST avoid the allure of gouging patron's pocket books, stealing their bottled water, and in 2006, fielding a team with a $23 million payroll, flush with underachievers, glorified minor leaguers, and other no-talents.

He, and David Littlefield (if Vincent K. McMahon's long-lost brother is still employed by the club) absolutely must have a roster full of legitimate major leaguers, confident that they'll provide a better than .500 team. Even more important, have a guy like Craig Wilson on the All-Star team, so he could compete in the home run contest. Or, could the team sign a powerful left handed stick that could deposit long balls into the Allegheny River? Perish the thought.

Pirate fans should be energized by this news. Hopefully the McClatchy clan will make the most of this chance to rebuild bridges long burned with fans.

The pessimist in me says that Kevin and the gang will bobble this chance like a routine grounder to Randall Simon. The optimist in me says...aw the hell with it, Kevin will drop the ball. Again.

Selig "Off Base" With Golden Era Remark

Bud Selig, who could not be a less effective MLB Commissioner, recently was overheard saying that Major League Baseball was in a "Golden Era." Someone needs to give this knucklehead a drug test ASAP.The "Golden Era" was when players stayed with one team for more than 6 months of the season, when teams like Pittsburgh, Montreal and Kansas City had a shot at being a contender...for more than a "fluke" year.The "Golden Era" was when kids looked up at guys like Mickey Mantle or Roberto Clemente and were irate when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to the Left Coast. Children and adults like could tell you what a fourth outfielder's batting average was every morning, when "Hold's" weren't a stat on the sports page. When games were followed on the radio and not an entitlement on TV.When guys like Raul Mondesi couldn't skip from team to team at a whim. Thankfully that chronic underachiever got his comeupence; he's been on the DL practically ever since he jumped from the Pirates for a slightly bigger Anaheim Angels paycheck. By the way, Bud, Kenesaw "Mountain" Landis would have chopped off Mondesi's manhood and showed it to the masses at the closest union representatives meeting, just to proove a point. Selig, as usual, slept while this travesty unraveled. Remember, this rocket scientist allowed the All-Star game to remain a tie a couple of years ago, instead of making someone, anyone, pitch another inning.The "Golden Era" featured buys with kooky nicknames..."Dr. Strangeglove," "The Mad Hungarian" and of course, "The Sultan of Swat." It's been interesting to see that practically no one has commented on Selig's proclamation. Maybe that was Bud's plan all along, to make the position as impotent as possible, so no one will ever expect the game to be fixed.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Pittsburgh Mayor Coverage

It's a common misconception that a news outlet, specifically print, needs to cover a candidate just because he/she is on the ballot. As a journalist in the 1990's, I and a newsroom of others eagerly looked for a candidate because we had heard that he had quietly passed away. Thankfully he had not, but was a dreadful interview.

Candidates for meaningful seats need to constantly put themselves "out there" and be news worthy. Some times that means making yourself viable through media buys. Other times that means running counter press conferences for practically everything controversial in the contest.

While it takes a great deal of effort to get on a ballot, that is the "beginning," not the end, for candidates vying for a public office.